Arsenal boys thrashed by the strong men of Bayern Munich
Fans and players lose heart as Arsenal face a near impossible task in Munich on 5 March
Arsenal 1 Bayern Munich 3. It was just as the Arsenal fans feared - men against boys, and by the end of this Champions League tie the boys had been given a good spanking.
Bayern Munich were superior to their hosts in every department and the Germans took just seven minutes to demonstrate their dominance. The Arsenal defence, tense, nervous and hesitant, watched as Toni Kroos lashed the ball past Wojciech Szczesny from the edge of the area.
Fifteen minutes later the Germans once again took advantage of their hosts' generosity as Daniel van Buyten rose unmarked. His header was parried away by Szczesny but Thomas Mueller was quickest to the rebound, rifling the ball into the roof of the net.
Twenty minutes on the clock and two down already. Some Gooners left the stadium, deciding a kebab and a pint on the Holloway Road was a better option than watching their team trounced. But most stuck it out to the bitter end; after all, they had paid an average of £94 for their tickets.
The Bayern fans – who, incidentally, pay £96 for their season ticket – lapped it up, dancing and singing and doing their best to lift an atmosphere at the Emirates that otherwise would have been funereal.
Arsenal enjoyed their best spell midway during the second-half and the Gunners even managed to put the ball in the net when Lukas Podolski headed home after the Bayern defence made an uncharacteristic mistake. Perhaps the Germans felt sorry for the fans or perhaps goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was so bored he took his eye off the ball and conceded his first goal of 2013.
Whatever, it was immaterial as Bayern struck again on 77 minutes, substitute Arjen Robben combining with the brilliant Philipp Lahm whose cross was scrambled into the Arsenal net by Mario Mandzukic.
Arsenal now face a near impossible task when they travel to Munich in three weeks' time for the return leg. Lacking the authoritative central defenders they so urgently require, Arsenal will be hoping to avoid humiliation rather than expecting to overturn the first leg deficit.
"Let's not hide the truth, it will be extremely difficult against a team of that quality," admitted Arsene Wenger, when asked about the second leg on 5 March. "We have to give our best there and hope that everything will go for us."
Hope is just about all Arsenal have left these days. They certainly don't have swagger, as Wenger himself confessed. "We were a bit nervous," he said. "We wanted to do well."
Nor do they have the talent to compete with the likes of Bayern, or Blackburn Rovers for that matter, but as is his wont the Arsenal manager refuses to face the facts. "The quality of my players is there, but they're not getting their rewards," he said. "I still have confidence in my players and in my team."
As least someone does. The Arsenal faithful gave up believing long again, and judging by recent results so have the players. ·